Croatia’s capital Zagreb was shaken by a series of earthquakes this morning that brought most of the population out onto the streets, just as social distancing regulations to prevent the spread of coronavirus had gone into place.
The ill-timed quakes, the largest of which measured 5.3 on the Richter scale, have left one child in critical condition and damaged buildings across Zagreb, including the spire of the city’s main cathedral. The epicentre was about four miles north of Zagreb.
Photographs showed damage to a hospital in the capital, just as the country’s health system was gearing up for a potential surge in coronavirus cases. Mothers cradled their newborns on the street as a maternity ward was evacuated.
Croatian authorities on Saturday advised residents to stay off the streets, cut most public transport and demanded people pay heed to social distancing recommendations. The country has recorded 206 cases of coronavirus so far and one death.
Croatia’s interior minister Davor Božinović said on Sunday that the army was helping to clear up the rubble in Zagreb. He said authorities were working to manage both crises but said the coronavirus was a more serious threat to the country than the earthquake. He urged those on the streets due to the earthquake to maintain social distancing norms.